Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) – Virginia Maritime Lawyer

Offshore Drilling | Maritime Lawyer Richard J. SerpeDrilling for oil and gas offshore is one of America’s most dangerous professions.

Pumpers, drillers, service unit operators, engine operators, derrick operators, roustabouts, and everyone else involved in bringing the “liquid gold” up and to shore face risks from dealing with very flammable materials to avoiding heavy equipment being swung overhead by cranes. These workers labor for twelve hour days, seven days a week, often for two weeks straight, and they have to be vigilant to avoid injury.  Even then, injury and death can be unavoidable for the workers.

But the payoffs for companies can be huge, and the work is not likely to run out soon.  The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimated in 2011 that there remains almost 90 billion undiscovered and recoverable oil and almost 400 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered and recoverable natural gas in the federal Outer Continental Shelf of the United States.  This area refers to all submerged lands, its subsoil, and seabed that belong to the United States and lying seaward and outside of the states’ jurisdiction.

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) covers those who work on fixed structures, like oil drilling platforms, beyond state maritime boundaries, and the workers are eligible for compensation for any injury occurring as the result of operations conducted on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Those entitled to protection under the OCSLA are entitled to the benefits available under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.  This means you can get your medical bills paid and can receive a portion of your wages paid to you for disability.  Compensation can also be paid to the spouse of a worker who is killed on the job, and separate amounts are due if there are surviving children.  Also, even if Longshore compensation is payable, there are some cases in which you can also take advantage of state laws that are not inconsistent with the federal law.

Also, in 2011 the Supreme Court of the United States decided that the injury does not actually have to occur on the Outer Continental Shelf for the OCSLA to apply.  An offshore worker was injured when he was hit by a forklift at the employers onshore building, and the Supreme Court decided that the OCSLA applied when there was a “substantial-nexus” between the injury that was suffered and his employer’s Outer Continental Shelf operations that were conducted for the purpose of extracting natural resources.

Experienced Maritime Lawyers

The applicability of the OCSLA, and the extent of all available remedies can be very complicated. You risk waiving or losing important rights if you sign papers given to you by your employer or give statements about your injuries or what happened.  So protect yourself and your family by talking to an experienced maritime lawyer.  At Richard J. Serpe, PC, we are here to help and we offer you a free initial consultation to discuss your case.